Monday, 3 June 2013

Running in Penestin, France

We've just been on our family hols to France!  A very pleasant break over half term in a new place for us.  Turned out to be wonderful for some easy runs through being nice and flat (but I did miss running up some hills).  This break has benefitted each one of us in terms of refreshment, the need for a slower pace and more time with each other.

Penestin is a small coastal community on a peninsular in southern Brittany and faces the Atlantic.  We got there by taking the overnight ferry from Portsmouth to St Malo and this is helpful in getting a decent night's sleep before a three hour drive the following day. Coming back, we took a day time crossing on a day with lovely weather so all-in-all it was a pleasurable journey.  It is not a place for challenging runs or bike rides at all.  Instead this is about some recovery, restful and recreational runs.

As usual, I enjoy running early in the mornings, before breakfast and this was no different.  We were staying right in the middle of the peninsular, about a mile or so inland and I never actually had a run along the beach after all (must go back another time for this!).  Instead I found lots of woodland tracks, doubling up as cycle tracks with the occasional horse rider too - these are superb for running and this is why....

  • A nice surface for running on; mostly grit or fine gravel
  • Very scenic.  Found myself passing through lots of woodland areas with beautiful meadows and fields on either side.  Plenty of wildlife and a natural eco-system doing well - it did not appear too over-farmed
  • Although sometimes it is necessary to run on a road to get to the start of a track, the roads were wonderfully quiet, what with France being so thinly populated compared to England
  • Lots to explore.... "where does this go?" but you are unlikely to get totally lost!
  • Wide enough for cyclists, horse riders and runners to pass each other
  • They appear to be very well maintained and there are discreet posts to prevent cars

Although I have eased back on running over the last month, having three or four runs in a week is a positive thing to do while on holiday.  These were easy runs lasting no more than an hour.  It is nice to just go for an easy, gentle run for the sheer enjoyment of it and not as part of a training schedule.  The time for that has gone (for now) and it's nice to run for the sheer joy of it in new surroundings.

Having said that, it is unwise to pretend you're not using your body in a way which puts a little strain on it.  I found I had a tight muscle in my groin which was starting to complain so I stopped and had a stretch with a few lunges.  While some people do their stretching before they run, I have always been wary of this and prefer to stretch once my muscles are warmer and more pliable.  I had no worries about being self conscious in doing this - the whole area was totally deserted so early in the morning!

Here's a few other photos from the early morning runs in Penestin:

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